Craig Stewart Resigns as Men's Soccer Head Coach
Stewart led Franklin Pierce to back-to-back NE-10 titles and a trip to the 2011 Division II Final Four
RINDGE, N.H. (February 22, 2012) -- Franklin Pierce University men's soccer head coach Craig Stewart has resigned from his duties at the school. He recently interviewed for the same position at Providence College, an NCAA Division I program which competes in the Big East Conference, and is expected to be named to that job in the near future.
"Craig Stewart did an outstanding job as head coach of the Franklin Pierce men's soccer program and we will definitely miss him in Rindge," Vice President/Director of Athletics Bruce Kirsh said. "We wish him the best of luck at his next school."
Stewart leaves Franklin Pierce after a stellar three seasons as the leader of the men's soccer program. During his time in Rindge, Stewart compiled a 51-8-6 overall record, two Northeast-10 Conference championships (regular season & tournament) and three NCAA Division II Tournament berths (including two #1 seeds), including a trip to the Final Four in 2011.
"I want to thank Bruce Kirsh and the athletic department for the opportunity to be the head men’s soccer coach at Franklin Pierce University," said Stewart. "It has been an honor to lead the program over the past three years and I am so proud of what has been accomplished during that time, both on and off the field. I appreciate the support that I have received during my tenure and I want to thank all of the student- athletes for their tremendous commitment and dedication to the program. As a former player and now former coach, Franklin Pierce will always be a special place for me; I take away a lot of great friendships and fond memories. With the returning group and incoming class, I think the future looks very bright for the men’s soccer program and I wish the team continued success moving forward."
Stewart is a 2004 Master's of Business Administration graduate of Franklin Pierce. He was a two-year letterwinner under coach Marco Koolman, serving as co-captain his final season in 2004, when he also earned Northeast-10 Player of the Year and NSCAA/adidas All-America honors. Regarded as one of the top playmakers in the region, he posted eight goals and eight assists for 24 points over his two years with the Ravens, helping the program to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, one trip to the NE-10 Championship match and the 2004 NCAA Division II Northeast Regional title.
Stewart joined the coaching staff at Providence under head coach Chaka Daley in 2006 and spent three seasons as his top assistant. Over the course of those three seasons, the Friars posted a record of 31-22-5, making two NCAA Tournament appearances and reaching the semifinal round of the Big East Tournament in 2006.
Stewart returned to Franklin Pierce as the head coach prior to the 2009 season. He had a strong first season in Rindge as he led the Ravens to a 13-5-3 overall record, a trip to the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament and a No. 16 ranking in the final NSCAA National Top-25 Poll.
Stewart's first season was special, but it was only the beginning of great things to come as the program would reach tremendous levels of success during the 2010 season. The Ravens were unbeaten in conference play during the regular season and earned the NE-10 regular season title and No. 1 seed in the championship tournament. That success carried over into the post-season, as the Ravens downed conference powers Merrimack, Le Moyne and Bentley in the title match to claim the Northeast-10 Conference Championship. The Ravens advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament and earned the No. 1 seed in Super Region 1. Overall, the Ravens finished 17-2-2 and were ranked No. 6 in the final NSCAA Top-25 Poll. For Stewart's efforts in 2010, he was named the NE-10 and NSCAA/Mondo East Region Coach of the Year.
The 2011 season proved to be just as memorable as the 2010 campaign. The Ravens produced a 21-1-1 overall record, a 12-0-1 mark in the Northeast-10 and claimed both the conference regular season and tournament championships for the second-straight season. The 21 wins were a program record for victories in a single campaign, while the undefeated mark in conference play marked the second-straight season the Ravens turned the trick.
Franklin Pierce claimed the NE-10 tournament title with a 1-0 triumph over in-state rival Southern New Hampshire, as that victory enabled the Ravens to claim the No. 1 seed in Super Region I for the second-straight year. The Ravens downed St. Thomas Aquinas in the second round and then picked up another 1-0 decision over SNHU, which sent the program to its fourth all-time appearance in the Final Four. Franklin Pierce's success wasn't just limited to the pitch, but also came in the classroom. The Ravens earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award late in November for producing a 3.12 team grade point average. Stewart, again, was awarded with the East Region Coach-of-the-Year honor by the NSCAA in late December when the national organization was handing out its awards.
A search for Stewart's replacement will begin immediately.
For more information on Franklin Pierce men's soccer, please visit the team's page at athletics.franklinpierce.edu(.) To follow the program even further, please visit Franklin Pierce Athletics on YouTube (www.youtube.com/FranklinPierceSports), Twitter (www.twitter.com/FPUathletics) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceAthletics).